How to find a recruiter you can trust
The first thing you should do before contacting a recruiter is take some time to consider what is important to you. Do some research about the country you would like to go to and the teaching jobs that exist there. Here are a list of items you may want to consider before contacting a recruiter:
1. Location - Know which city or area you want to live in before you contact a recruitment company
2. Who/where do you want to teach - Children, Middle School, High School, Adults, University? In a public school or private institute?
3. Salary - Obviously you can't demand a ridiculous salary, but it should be around what every one else makes in similar positions. Again do some research first.
4. Working hours - Some schools may ask you to work weekends, so clarify if you want to work Saturdays
5. Vacation time - Every contract should have some vacation time.
6. Contract Length
7. Benefits (ie. paid airfare, paid accommodations, health insurance, etc)
When you do find a recruitment company to work with, make sure you communicate your needs and wants clearly, and don't be afraid to stick to your guns (but be realistic)
My next step in choosing a recruiter, would be to do some research on the company itself. Do they have a legitimate business? Do they have a positive or negative track record? There are lots of forums and blogs out there that will give you honest reviews about recruitment companies. If you know someone who has taught abroad that used a recruitment company, this could be another great to find the right recruitment agency.
I would also suggest when choosing a recruiter, to actually choose a few to work with instead of just one. Most recruitment agencies will have their own well-established relationships with certain school and universities, and may not have connections with other schools you are interested in. By having a few agencies working for you, you'll have more options to choose from. Do not accept more than one position from different recruitment companies though.
Oh and while its fresh on my mind, you shouldn't ever have to pay a fee for recruiter services. As I mentioned earlier, recruitment companies collect commissions from schools for every teacher they recruit. If a recruitment company is asking you to pay a fee, find a new company to work with.
The last suggestion that I can give you in finding a recruitment company to work with, and in finding a job abroad, is please take your time. There are many recruitment companies out there, so don't feel obligated to work with the first one that contacts you. Also, if they cannot offer what you are looking for, thank them for their help and move along to another company. When choosing a job, you should also be patient. Don't just take the first one that is offered to you, if it's not what you want. New teaching jobs become available everyday. And if the contract a school offers you isn't suitable, try to negotiate. Schools often find themselves under time crunches and depend on having English teachers, so you may be able to use this to your advantage.
When I went to Ghana to Volunteer as an elementary school teacher, I went through an NGO that charged me $400 registration fee, and then $400 more when I arrived for service fees. After spending 2 months there and realizing how much this $800 would have helped the school and community I was living in, I was so angry at the NGO. At this point, I decided that if I was going to teach abroad again, I would make sure money wasn't spent in the wrong place.
When I went to Korea the first time, I had a great experience with a recruitment company named GMSC-Recruiting. They presented a number of different jobs to me, they were very supportive throughout the whole process, and they were able to connect me with teachers who worked at the school I was going to, which was super valuable. Unfortunately today, when I went to check out the website for this recruitment agency, it appears that they no longer exist. So I guess this isn't too much help for you.
Overall, I'd recommend using a recruiter, when you first go to teach abroad, as finding a safe, secure and reputable position yourself, can be challenging. I should mention that the next couple years I taught in Korea, I did find my own jobs myself, but that was only because I was living there, and could check out schools in person.
Good luck finding teaching jobs! Let me know your feedback on this blog entry